Days after Mississippi State’s live bulldog mascot got hit by Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow as the running back slid out of bounds, PETA says it sent a letter asking Mississippi State to end the practice of live mascots.
Bully the bulldog was on the sideline near one of the end zones when Whitlow ran out of bounds and got clipped by a Mississippi State defender. As he was falling to the ground he slid headfirst into an unsuspecting Bully.
Oh sorry Bully. … hope he’s ok. pic.twitter.com/jbwS8lHLKJ— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) September 28, 2019
Bully escaped injury on the play and got checked out during the game via a video call from the vet. Bully even returned to the sidelines for the rest of the game, though the first-quarter play was a microcosm of the game for Mississippi State. Auburn won 56-23.
📢 PUPdate: Jak is okay! He will spend the football bye week making a full recovery from bruising to his chin and right hind leg during the MSU vs. Auburn game this past weekend. He’ll be ready to return to all his mascot duties on Oct. 13. pic.twitter.com/49QLA02Zkk— Mississippi State (@msstate) September 30, 2019
PETA said in a statement on Tuesday that it had sent Mississippi State a letter requesting that Jak — the name of the bulldog that serves as Bully — retire from his mascot duties and that Mississippi State shouldn’t replace him with another bulldog mascot. The letter is a tad hyperbolic.
“It was sheer luck that this close call didn’t leave Jak severely injured or even dead, and it’s never been fair game to subject a dog to the bright lights, screaming fans and booming noise of a football stadium,” PETA’s Marta Holmberg said in a statement. “PETA is urging MSU to be a dog’s best friend and end its live-mascot program — and we’ll gladly help find Jak a loving adoptive home where he can live out the rest of his days in peace.”
Bully is one of many live mascots in the SEC
Bully is far from the only live mascot in the SEC. He has a friend at Georgia in Uga, who was involved in a hilarious kerfuffle with Texas mascot Bevo before the Sugar Bowl in January. Uga also roams the sidelines at football games as does Reveille, Texas A&M’s collie and Tennessee’s coonhound Smokey.
LSU has Mike the Tiger, though he’s not on the sidelines for obvious reasons. He has his own habitat at Tiger Stadium. And Auburn has Aurea the eagle, who flies around the stadium before home games. PETA presumably wishes that none of these animals were being used as mascots.
What happened to Bully on Saturday night was an unfortunate incident that could have been avoided with a little more preparation and planning or if Bully’s handler had simply seen Whitlow coming in the first place. After numerous replay viewings, it appears that she was unable to see him and unable to react until it was too late.
Yeah, the dog and Mississippi State are lucky that Bully didn’t have more than a couple bruises — the bulldog’s got good leverage with those short legs — but the collision with Whitlow is a teaching moment for Mississippi State to minimize the risk of another incident happening in the future. It’s not a time for the school to end its live mascot program. PETA should have offered to build him a nice mobile and iron-fortified dog house instead of calling for the mascot program to be ended.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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